Word of the Day: Musical Pantechnicon

“What would Philadelphia be without its orchestra?” cry traditionalists. Good question, but it’s not the only one. Realists are demanding to know exactly what a city of six million wrestling with post-industrial decline gains from having a costly and cumbersome musical pantechnicon.

Norman Lebrecht, “What Happens When the Band Stops Playing?” Standpoint (July/Aug 2011)

Musical Pantechnicon, n.

U. S.  /ˈmjuzək(ə)l/  /pænˈtɛknəˌkɑn/   A collection of all (“pan”) arts and crafts (“techne”) for the production of music; a large and diverse assortment of musical instruments, played by machine or by humans.  Example: the panharmonicon, a mechanical orchestra built by Nepomuk Maelzel in 1811 and for which Beethoven composed Wellington’s Victory, was a musical pantechnicon.

Brit.  /ˈmjuːzᵻkl/  /panˈtɛknᵻk(ə)n/   An over-sized vehicle for large pieces of furniture music.


Musical Pantechnicon

photo by Jordan Fischer

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